Guest Post: Mr. LOLZ Mercedes Marathon (2:59.45)

As most people know, my husband ran his first marathon last weekend.  For his first blog post, he decided to share his recap of the race.  Enjoy!

Hollie


As people know, Hollie and I lived in Alabama for about 6 weeks due to my work.  Going into the marathon, I was finishing a six-week course for the Air Force. While I had time to train, running wasn’t my main focus.  In fact, I hadn’t committed to the marathon until we finished the preview run just two weeks prior.    I finished 20 that day.  I knew I could finish a marathon, but I wanted to finish it under 3 hours.  I heard the Mercedes marathon was a good full and it fell on the end of my course so I thought it would be a good idea to do.

The night before, we had Mellow Mushroom pizza which is Hollie and I’s favorite restaurant. I’m lactose intolerant, so I don’t get cheese but garlic and oil based. I like to feel full but not overwhelmed. We went to bed at 8 pm and were up at 4:15 am. I had coffee and a bagel for breakfast.  We walked to the start after Hollie needed to go to the car twice in the morning for random things including running shoes. I guess she is not into barefoot running.

I don’t like big races and would rather do a small 100 person one.  The bathroom situation and start line are always crazy. Once we got to the start, I was faced with a 30 min bathroom line, but I discovered bathrooms on the third floor which had zero line. We got to the start about 10 mins before and chatted with Miles, and exchanged race strategies. My goal was to go out in a 7 min pace and pick it up to break 3 hours. I was told this was a bad strategy given the heat conditions and it was my first marathon.

Since the half and full marathon started together, I started next to my wife. As they did the countdown for the start, my wife was dancing to rap music. I don’t understand why they play rap music at starts but it’s another reason I don’t like big races.  Unlike Hollie who talks to everyone she knows and dances at the start line, I like to stay focused.

The race went off with a literal “go go go”. I started off as expected. It was rush of people as expected. I told myself to chill and relax. I came through the first mile in 6:40.

I was already getting hot and anticipated I might need to delayer to my top.  Between mile 1-2, I moved my race bib from my shirt to my shorts because it impeded air flow. I don’t know how I didn’t fall.

The next few miles clicked along, and between miles 2-8, I kept an even pace between 6:50-7. I run with a stopwatch with no GPS, so I went based in mile markers. My goal to the halfway was to remain relaxed and not to pick it up. The heat wasn’t affecting me as much as I anticipated but I also ran a half marathon while deployed in 90 degrees (literally 90 degrees).

At mile 10, many half marathoners passed me doing their finishing kick. They pulled me along, and I caught up with one kid whose goal was to break 90 minutes in the half. I hit the halfway point in 1:30.40 which was exactly what I planned. Even though that was “the plan,” I was worried because it was slower than 3-hour pace and my hamstring was tight.

The marathon course is a double loop of the half, and we started back around for round 2. Excitingly enough, we ran the exact same course twice. I looked up at the first hill and saw two runners about 2 mins ahead and thought they were probably at the 3-hour pace. I caught them about 3 miles later. I ran between 6:20-6:40 for the next few miles based on hills.

Around miles 16-18, I slowed down for the next few miles because I was nervous to hit the infamous wall marathoners talk about. I kept an easier pace going up hills and passed a few more people.  I had begun to pass a lot of people.  That’s motivating in any race.

Personally, I never felt as though I hit the wall. Around mile 20, we hit the downhill with a minor headwind.

Once I got to mile 23, I did the math and realized to break 3 I would have to run 7-minute pace exactly. The next three miles I ran in 7:03, and when I got to mile 26, I knew it was extremely close, and I had to go. I would regret running above 3 hours.  My half marathon PR is 1:20.02 so I didn’t want to do that again.

When I rounded the last turn, I could see the finish line reading 2:59. I picked it up and ran as hard as possible and finished in 2:59.45.  I guess I ran by my wife screaming but I didn’t notice because I was staring at the finish.

After I crossed the line, I felt my legs cramping and kept walking. I chugged a Powerade and ate half of the Orange supply.

tim-and-i-1

I know I’ll a do another marathon at some point when my schedule allows me to train.  I had a good experience with the marathon and while I prefer it over the half marathon, I still like 5-10ks better.

Hollie told me to ask some questions at the bottom so:

What do you remember about your first marathon?

Do you like to stay focused at the start line or are you relaxed and talkative? 

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Training: Back to the Cold

Last week was a solid week of training.  My easy runs felt good and I had two quality workouts. Since the Mercedes half marathon was more of a workout, I recovered quickly.  Not that I’m complaining…

Monday:  Easy 60 minutes at McAlpine Park in Charlotte
Tuesday: Easy 60 minutes
Wednesday: Easy 60 minutes
Thursday: 12X2 minutes with 30 seconds rest
Friday: Easy 70 minutes
Saturday:  Easy 60 minutes
Sunday: 2X4 mile tempo (6:42 pace)

I didn’t race this week and I probably won’t next week.  Due to weather, February is typically a “drier” race month in New Jersey. I’m happy to get a couple of quality weeks of training under my belt as well.  My next major race is the Shamrock half marathon in about a month.  That will be a race to hopefully test my fitness.  Incase you are interested, I wrote about my 2017 Spring Goal Races here.

Speaking of New Jersey, I’m having a hard time adjusting back to the climate.   When I left, we hadn’t had a lot of cold days and now running in the 20s feels difficult.  It’s quite a shock from the drastic humidity of Alabama.  So if you see someone running around in a parka, it might be me.

Workouts:
Thursday: 12×2 minutes with 30 seconds rest (average 6:15 pace)

I appreciate my workouts are rarely the same.  This is one of the better workouts I’ve had lately.  I’m back to doing workouts on roads and I felt good

Sunday: 2X4 miles (6:42 average)
This workout intimidated me.  The goal pace was 6:44.  I did the workout on roads and it flew by.  I never felt amazing but I was able to make the pace.

This week will be similar.  I’ll just crank through workouts and get them under my belt.

Posts from the Week:
Mercedes Half Marathon
Saucony Freedom ISO Shoe Review
Love Yourself

Questions for you:
How was your week of training?
Where is your favorite spot to workout?

Saucony Freedom ISO Shoe Review

While living in Alabama, I committed one a runner sin.  I was underprepared shoe wise for 6 weeks.  While I could have gotten a pair of shoes I’ve already run in, I decided to try the Saucony Freedom.  Before leaving, I had tried them on at work. They seemed like they would be a good shoe for me.

This is the first model so there is nothing to compare it too.  I have run in multiple other Saucony shoes including the Kinvara, Zealot ISO 1 and 2, Ride 9 and Triumph ISO 1 and 2.

The Freedom uses Saucony’s signature Everrun material.  It is the first of the line to use the Everrun at the forefront of the shoe.  What does this mean for me? As someone who strikes extremely far to the front, there is plenty of cushion up there too.  There are actually very few shoes with a full length cushioning in the forefront too (most shoes have a lot of cushioning in the heel and it tapers to the front).

Fit:

Just like the Saucony Triumph and Zealot, the Freedom uses the ISO fit.  It fits more like slipper than an actual shoe.  I find the ISO fits my foot better but the shoe does run short.  Typically I wear a size 10 but I found the 10.5 to be the best fit.  I even contemplated doing an 11 or a men’s size 9 because I could use more width.  I would recommend going up at least a half size if not more.

Ride:

This was definitely interesting.  I could feel the extra cushion in the forefront immediately.  My first run in the shoe was an easy 7 miler.  It felt comfortable the moment I put it in on.  It was soft, yet responsive and the extra cushion for my metatarsals was immediately noticed.

me running

Pros:

  • More cushion in the forefront
  • Light weight

Cons:

  • Sizing
  • Cost ($160 makes it one of the most costly neutral shoes on the market)

Similar options:

There aren’t a lot of options with extra cushion in the front.  Both the Saucony Kinvara and Zealot ISO 2 have a 4mm drop and are the closest by far.  The Asics Nimbus or adidas Energy Boost has a good amount of cushioning in the front as well.

Current Shoe Rotation: 
Saucony Freedom ISO (long runs, daily runs)
Brooks Ghost (any run)
Brooks Launch (shorter runs, speed work)
Saucony Type A (speed work)

Questions for you:
Where do you wear out a shoe first?
Which shoes are you currently running in?

 

Training: Heat and Moving

Monday: 55 minutes easy
Tuesday: 60 minutes easy
Wednesday: Workout: 4X1 mile and 4X400s
Thursday: Easy 55 minutes
Friday: Easy 60 minutes
Saturday: Easy 45 minutes
Sunday: Mercedes Half Marathon (1:27.01)

Most of my week was spent preparing to move back to New Jersey.  Even though it was only 5 weeks, there were a lot of loose ends to tie up the final week.  Plus packing is hard no matter how long you’ve lived somewhere.

Workout Wednesday:

4X1 mile (6:38, 6:42, 6:27, 6:27)

4X400 (1:30)

I can’t say this workout went extremely well, but I got it done.  My body was still sore from the Double Bridges 15k.  All four of my 400s were run at exactly 1:30 and that was unplanned.  Consistency is key…I guess.

My goal when I first found out we were moving was training and PRing at the Mercedes half marathon.  The focus changed once I was settled to training and racing hard at the Double Bridges 15k.  I’m glad I did that as the weather was better that day, plus my legs felt better than they did at Mercedes.  The weather at the Mercedes half marathon was extremely hot.  At the

At the start, it was 65 degrees and 93% humidity.  By the end, it was well above 70.  It was *supposed* to pour rain which would clear that up…sadly it did not.  Out of every half marathon I’ve done, including RnR Virginia Beach, it was the worst for heat.

The race itself, wasn’t about me, though.  Even before the race start, I knew it would be a rough and challenging race.  My gut didn’t lie.  I finished in 1:27.01, which in the heat I’m happy with.

But my focus of the race that day wasn’t my own race.  It was to support, cheer and watch my husband, as he ran his first full marathon of 2:59.45.


Upwards and onwards.  We are currently in route back to New Jersey.  I don’t have any major races until Shamrock on March 18th.

Questions for you: 

What is the hottest weather you’ve ever run?

What is the hardest thing to pack?

I would say hangers, they are awkward and don’t fit anywhere.

 

Double Bridge 15k (58:41)

Last weekend, my husband and I raced the Pensacola Double Bridges 15k.  We heard from various people that it was a fun, well put together race.  I hadn’t raced a 15k in a long time. They are more common in Upstate NY while 10 milers are more common in New Jersey.

Due to our schedule, we weren’t able to leave Montgomery until 5:30 pm.  We arrived in Pensacola around 9 pm, checked into our hotel and immediately went to bed.   I woke up around 4:30 am, got ready and headed to the shuttle by 5:30.  The only race I’ve also used a shuttle was the Phoenix Full marathon.  Since my hotel was essentially at the end of the race, the shuttle drove us the 15k backward.  Once we arrived, we realized how cold it was.  Originally the weather was supposed to be 55, but it turned to 38 and windy.

The hour before the race there was little to no shelter from the wind.  Even through my layers and jacket, I was both miserable and freezing.  If I had known about the start conditions, I probably would have driven to the start, sat in my car and taken a taxi back after the race to get my car.  It would have been a pain, but I wouldn’t have been cold.

The restroom lines were long, and I found myself in line 5 mins before the start.  I was lucky my husband dropped my bag off, and I sprinted into the corral less than 30 seconds before race start. It was nowhere near ideal, but I made it to the start.  Out of any race, this one cut it the closest.

Because my adrenaline was pumping from nearly missing the start, the first mile went by quickly.  I was running in a pack of people including my husband.  His plan was to take it “easy” the first half and then finish strong the second.  We hit the first mile in 6:17.

During the second mile, the pack began to spread out  I got my bearings of the area, and I found myself 5th woman overall.  I passed a couple of women and grabbed water.  I was hoping for Gatorade, but it was water only.  I crossed the second mile in 6:24.

Double Bridge 15k me running

We entered “3 Mile Bridge” which is exactly as the name indicates.  A three-mile long bridge.  You could see the first “hill” up ahead.  Since there are no tunnels, the bridge hill is what allows Navy ships to pass through, so it was pretty steep.  I crossed the third mile in 6:20.

I wasn’t feeling bad during the race, but I definitely didn’t feel amazing either.  To be honest, I had hoped I would feel amazing and have a magical race.  I didn’t feel awful, but I did not feel as though, I had cut miles and tapered.  My calves were extremely stiff.

Double Bridge 15k me running

My husband was still several feet in front of me.  As we climbed the bridge hill, I knew exactly what he would do. He was going to power up the crest of the hill and surge downhill and leave me.  He did just that, and I was proud because I knew he was going to have a great race.  I found myself alone with two women directly ahead. I ran mile 4 in 6:27 and passed the remaining two women.

The fifth mile was boring.  It was the last mile of 3-mile bridge, and I was running alone.  Just me, staring out over the water looking for manatees.  It was windy but not bad, and I ran it in 6:18.

As we entered onto land, my body began to feel worse.  I became and more stiff.  Typically in the 10-13.1 mile distance,  I end up feeling better towards the end.  I’m not a fast race starter, and I’m not a runner who “counts down” miles.  So when I didn’t feel great at mile 6, I knew immediately it was going to be a pain train finish.

Double Bridge 15k me running

We passed the 5k race start, and they were chanting “first lady”.  All I could think was WTF, how did this happen.  I thought there must have been a couple of women out of my line of sight.  I had looked at race results from the previous years, and female overall had sometimes won in 55.  Despite feeling stiff, I tried to focus on the finish.  I crossed mile 7 in 6:23.

The second bridge also brought a drastic banked turn which felt extremely uncomfortable.  I can run uphill, and I can run downhill but running up banked hill always seems to shred my legs.  It did in the Philadelphia half marathon, and it did during the Double Bridges 15k.  That mile hurt, a lot. I crossed mile 8 in 6:28 and thought: “just one mile to go.”

During the final mile, a police motorcyclist approached me and told me to show my bib so he could radio to the front.  My bib was directly on my top but because it was windy, it was hard to read the numbers.  I honestly didn’t have any energy at all, and the police officer weaving in and out because he could not see my bib was the last thing I wanted to entertain.  I just wanted to finish.  I knew the second place woman was quickly approaching.

Double Bridge 15k me running

She caught me around mile 9, and I tried desperately to hold on.  I didn’t feel great, and my legs were stiff.  I had led the race for the last 5 miles and wanted to hang on.  Unfortunately, even with powering my strongest, it didn’t happen.  She outkicked me in 9.2 out of a 9.3 race and broke the tape.  I finished the last .3 in a 5:50 pace. I won’t pretend as though I’m satisfied to be outkicked in the final strides of a race, but she was faster that day.  I gave that race everything I had!

Double Bridge 15k me running

Thoughts:

There were a lot of minor issues that happened during the race.  I’m happy with it and how I performed under the conditions but I was hoping for a faster time which I do believe I’m capable of.  I ran Broad Street at a 6:11 pace.

While the race went pretty well under the cold conditions, I don’t believe it yet shows where my fitness is.  My calves were stiff the entire race and didn’t feel as though they had their usual “pep”.  Luckily, the Double Bridge Run was just one of many races in my 2017 Goals.

Questions for you:

Have you run over a bridge before?

Have you been to Pensacola? 

How to Race Well

I am someone who likes to race a lot.

Big races…

small races…

short races…

long races…

I like them all!

I thrive on the excitement of races. While every race is not a PR, I have found I thrive on racing frequently.  I also enjoy it.  I like meeting new people, pushing myself to the finish line and getting a good workout in.  Thinking out loud, I decided to compile a few tips and tricks that help me in any of my races.

How to Race Well:

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT:

I believe that to run a goal race well; you should have a few practice races.

It is good to practice your nutrition, gels, CLOTHING, and pace goals beforehand.  Of course, you can do this in a training run, but nothing beats the real deal.  I know it took me 30+ 5ks to execute and PR at the Flower Show last year.  I highly doubt it takes most people that long.

STAY CALM:

Remember you’ve been preparing for the race. You’ve put in the work, and all that is left is the actual race.

Good nerves are not a bad thing but don’t let them get the best of you.  A while back, I was interviewed on Lindsey Hein’s podcast, I’ll have another.  She asked if I got nervous during races and the answer was not really.  I race so much that while I do have a few nerves and butterflies, it’s never overwhelming because I’ve been in that situation before!

(Race) Confidence is key!

REMEMBER YOUR TRAINING:

Between racing and training, the majority of time is spent training.  Don’t forget about how you’ve prepared for the race. Focus on the good aspects of training.  Let’s be honest, a bad run sticks in our head longer than a good one.  Try not to forget about the good training runs too! Those are what build your confidence!

Before a major race, I like to scroll through my training log and look at the runs I crushed and felt confident!  

I feel a lot better going into a race knowing I crushed goal workouts.

CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN:

After the weather in 2016, I learned to toughen up in bad weather.  Before 2016, I had never really raced in bad weather.  The first five years, I had always lucked out, but very few races ever go smoothly.  It’s important to realize there will always be uncontrollables at a race and how you handle them will define your race!  This is a lesson I’ve learned with running and life.  You cannot control everything.

Uncontrollables can be many things:

  • the race start is late
  • the weather is awful
  • or the course is changed
You can’t control every variable of a race, but you can control how you react.  Every racer deals with the same uncontrollables.  Remember, every racer is dealing with the same issues and we are all making the best of it!

ENJOY THE RACE:

Every race has both high points and low points.  Embrace the good points as much as you complain about the low points.  Even in 5ks, you can have amazing moments and moments you want to forget.

REMEMBER THE END PROCESS AND MEETING YOUR GOALS IS WORTH IT.

Another post you might like: Racing in Undesirable Conditions

Questions for you:

Do you like racing?

Training Last Week: Mostly Boring with a 15k

For some reason, I struggled with writing this week’s recap more than usual.  My easy runs were just that, easy and boring.

Monday: 6 miles (8:40)
Tuesday: Workout
Wednesday: 5 miles easy
Thursday: 5 miles easy
Friday: 5 miles easy
Saturday: Double Bridges 15k (58:41)
Sunday: 60 minutes easy
Total: 51 miles

Tuesdays Workout:
3X400 meters
1X10 minutes (6:38 pace)
3X400 meters

The track was being used, so I found a piece of road and ran there. I felt as though I was still recovering from the Polar Bear 5k in Atlanta the weekend before, but I was happy with my effort.

Double Bridges 15k: (58:48) 6:18 pace
This was the only “exciting” aspect of training last week.  The Double Bridges 15k was a solid race effort for me.  It wasn’t a PR, as Broad Street’s pace last year was faster but it was fastest I’ve done since my ankle fracture. I will say, I’ve never been as cold as I was at a race start.

The weather changed overnight from the high 50s to 38 and windy at the start.  I barely made the start, and it wasn’t an exaggeration when I say I didn’t have a minute to spare.

The race itself was decent.  My legs never felt great and my calves actually felt stiff the entire race.  I’m happy with my performance, although I do feel as though I’m in better shape than the race shows.

Sunday’s easy run was my favorite.  I asked my husband if he wanted to take a running selfie post run.  Then when we went to actually do it, I promptly fell. As you can guess, I’m clumsy and that wasn’t a surprise.

#thatawkwardmoment you try and take a running selfie with your husband and you fall.

A post shared by Hollie (@fueledbylolz) on

Next week I’ll be running the Mercedes half marathon in Birmingham.  I ran the course preview last weekend, which was fun and I’m looking forward to running the race.

Running Related Post from the week:  January 2017 Training

Questions for you:
Have you run a 15k before?
I feel as though they are much more common in Upstate, NY.
How was your workout week?